Saturday, December 27, 2014
I know somebody - let’s call him Dan - who accomplished something that very few people have done. Following his spiritual awakening a few years ago, he began putting on tefillin and devoting 60 minutes of his time to personal prayer every day. Dan also kept this up for a long time despite living in isolation and having no support for what he was doing.
Things were going along pretty well for Dan until he started listening to a particular kind of “music” known as Death Metal. This “music” appeals to angry depressed youngsters who haven’t found themselves; who haven’t found G-d, and who certainly haven’t found a solid purpose for living.
Young people who are angry at their parents, angry at themselves, and angry at life – are easily seduced by the violent screaming, cursing and the images of death and mutilation that reflect what they feel inside. Death Metal itself is written by depressed, drug-addicted, suicidal youth who normalize suicide and homicide as viable even desirable options for themselves and their peers. In today’s world, where a suicide takes place every 40 seconds, there are young people who are killing themselves with this “music” playing in the background right now!
Dan fell into Death Metal - almost, all the way. He changed his dress. He stopped smiling and even began to produce and sell this awful “music” himself. He couldn’t give it up because it was his “identity,” it was the only “him” that he knew. Needless to say, Dan’s observance of tefillin, prayer and Shabbos fell to the wayside; and it wasn’t long before his suppressed anger turned to rage and even violence towards his parents.
Everything came to a head when Dan had a full-blown panic attack while driving his car. He was blessed to have survived it. After that, though he developed agoraphobic and obsessive compulsive symptoms that are so severe that he hasn’t been able to walk out his front door for the past year - that is unless he is so doped up on medication that he feels like a zombie. This was the only way that Dan could be brought to his therapy sessions – doped up like a zombie!
After having had psychoanalysis, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical cognitive behavior therapy and a bunch of other treatments his mother suggested that he call me. By that time Dan was becoming suicidal himself. Thank G-d he called.
I just told Dan what he really wanted to hear – the truth. I told him that Death Metal and pornography were the problem and that nothing else would help him if he didn’t cut them both out completely. He wondered how I could “blame” his problems on Heavy Metal when other people who listened to it seemed to be “okay.” I told him that they were far from “okay.” But even if they seemed to be getting away with listening to it, for now, that he would never be able to listen to it and function normally again. I told him that whether he liked it or not he was a very spiritually person who could never tolerate such impurity. I reminded him that it isn’t everyone who was given the great spiritual awakening that he was given a few short years ago. This was why G-d was giving him these weird symptoms. He wanted him to have no choice but to follow through on his original plan of becoming religious.
Dan wasn’t buying that “music” however filthy and profane could account for his symptoms. He had heard enough of my religious babble and was once again searching for a real psychologist – someone who would agree with him that he could be cured without having to give up Heavy Metal and pornography. I wished him luck finding someone who could accomplish such a feat – I for one could not.
At our last scheduled session when Dan’s usual gaunt and despondent face popped onto my Skype screen; I noticed an uncharacteristic spark of life in his eyes. Continue here...
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A great new week to all my friends!
Dr. Zev Ballen
Dr. Zev Ballen